I can’t believe that I have let so much time pass since crossing the finish line. It still seems like a dream to me.
The whole experience of preparing and completing the race was really amazing! However, I am pretty sure the part that made it the best was the bonus of a reunion 19 years in the making. I was blessed with being joined my one of my running heroes!! Shauna and I went to elementary and middle school together. We were on the same school bus, but we were in different social groups. Even at that early age, she was already a force to be reckoned with! Shauna was on cross country and already a very active kid. I on the other hand was I was the total opposite.
Fast forward 19 years to the age of technology where friendships are built from curious searches on Facebook. Shauna was still an avid runner and adventure seeker and I was just discovering the world. She had faith in me that I could accomplish my goal and she promised to help! Thus was born the idea of completed the Diva’s Half Marathon together!
I in fact completed my first half marathon! I wouldn’t say that I “ran” it, but I participated and crossed the finish line before the course was closed. And the big bonus of the day, I WASN’T LAST! There were actually 114 people behind me!!
The whole day couldn’t not have gone more smoothly!!! We both got up on time and went through our pre-race routines. We geared up and enjoyed breakfast in the car on the way. Thankfully we were less than 10 mins from the start line, so leaving early to get good parking was no issue. We had no problem getting a spot very close to the finish line. It was cool but humid with a heavy mist in the air that we hoped would burn off as the sun awoke. There was such energy in the air, a buzz and a shimmer to every little thing.
The morning’s schedule had three waves of 5K runners taking off first, so we wandered down to the start line to watch and get caught up in the excitement. There were tutus and costumes EVERYWHERE and the people that were not dolled up looked a bit out of place. It was so exciting to be in a place that didn’t take itself too seriously.
Lining up, getting ready, it was all an out of body experience. There were hundreds of people between us and the start line, but it didn’t take us very long to get there, and we were on our way! The first couple of miles seemed to melt away as I shook out the stiffness and my muscles remembered what we were here to do. There was one spot that we would pass 3 times and my boys had come to cheer us on! It seemed like every time I started to wane, there would be a water stop with a DJ and cheerleaders that would bring the energy back up. Watching for where my personal cheerleaders would be hiding helped to make the time pass also. Each time we passed the boys they would yell out for mommy and wave and the love I felt from them pushed me on and on.
There was a surprise around mile 8, when my coworker Diane rode by on her bike!!! She had been riding the course looking for us! She stayed with us for about a half mile and then went off to meet us at the finish!
It was such a strange sensation to be running on the roads that I drove to work every day. Usually congested with commuters rushing, it was peaceful and quiet with only the sound of rubber hitting the pavement and our constant chatter!
In to mile 10 we got a great surprise!! An unofficial aid station! There was music; there were men in drag and crazy costumes. And better yet, there were snacks!!! A giant bowl of M&Ms and orange slices. This was such a treat and brought laughter that carried us for another mile.
Sadly, this was also where I started having trouble. My knee had decided that it really didn’t want to participate in the completion of this race anymore. It was really uncomfortable and the walking breaks started to out distance the running sections. Count my spirit officially broken! I wanted to finish strong, I wanted to feel like I had “run” the race and it was slipping away from me. Shauna was so supportive and encouraging. Each time I despaired, she was right there with a tip or a suggestion. We hobbled through the tiara station. I hoped that picking up the bling would give me that extra power.
It wasn’t until I saw the finish that I was able to reach down and find the oomph to get it down. Something took over me, and I couldn’t stop. I am sure that I looked pretty silly barreling towards the end. But for that short time, I felt graceful, I felt fast, I felt like a runner.
After it was over, there were medals and roses, champagne, and bagels and bananas and cookies! My official finish time was 3:18:15. I finished in 1,782nd place out of 1898 participants. But here is the thing that I know. I won! I won MY race. It didn’t matter what others did out there. It doesn’t matter that others crossed the finish before me. They were not running MY race. I did the best I could for me. This gives me a benchmark, a place to improve from. There will be more half marathons in my future, but none will ever compare to my first!
A huge thanks to me rock and my coach! Shauna, without you… I wouldn’t have been able to do this. It was a joy to run your slowest half marathon with you!!!